Mmegi Online :: I never ordered Basarwa torture-Pilane
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Last Updated
Friday 15 December 2017, 17:56 pm.
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I never ordered Basarwa torture-Pilane

The Allegations
*The Botswana Guardian issue of 21 May 2010 paraphrases allegations made by Kuela Kiema in his book "Tears For My Land".
By SIDNEY PILANE (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: I never ordered Basarwa torture-Pilane








The article bearing the heading "Pilane ordered Basarwa assault-book" sets out the dramatic allegations that I ordered the harassment and an assault on Basarwa several years ago. Those allegations are false in the extreme.   

The True Account
*One evening when I still worked at the office of the President, I received a call from Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.She said that she was with President Ian Khama, then Vice President, and that he wished to speak to me. He said that they had information that there were, in New Xade, some American and German celebrities who had, for a few days, been holding meetings with Mr Roy Sesana and a number of other Basarwa. They together had, he said, been planning to assemble a large number of Basarwa with whom to  enter the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) without Permits in contravention of the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act, Cap. 38:01.    

* The Act requires that all who enter Game Reserves and National Parks are required to first obtain Permits.Those Permits were readily available, and were issued to applicants as a matter of course; Basarwa who lived outside the Reserve were never refused Permits. There were facilities in Ghanzi, New Xade, inter alia, where anybody who sought such a Permit applied and got given it immediately. To the best of my recollection there was, at the time, a facility for issuing such Permits to Basarwa at entry points to the  CKGR. Accordingly, the sole purpose of the plan to enter the Reserve was in order to defy the law.     

*My discussion with President Khama yielded the decision that this should not be permitted because of its implications for law and order generally. The matter was a sensitive one, and it was important that it be handled properly to ensure that no excesses were committed. The nationals of two foreign countries who enjoyed a close and long standing diplomatic relationship with Botswana were involved. The government was, in its interactions with the Basarwa communities, conscious of the need to treat them with greater care than it did other citizens, not least because they stood in a vulnerable position. Thirdly, sub judice in the High Court was a case in which one of the issues which arose for decision was the right of the former residents of the CKGR to live within it.       

* It is this sensitivity that necessitated the presence of Commissioner Tsimako, then Deputy Commissioner of Police, Broekhuis of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, and myself. The Deputy Commissioner of Police was to supervise negotiations by the Ghanzi Police with Roy Sesana and his group, including the Americans and Germans; he was to ensure that they were proper and exhaustive. Mine was to ensure that nothing happened which might undermine Botswana's relations with the United States and Germany, as also to undermine the case which, at the time, was still pending before the High Court. It might be recalled that in that case, I led for the Government.     

*Having agreed this course, President Khama and I agreed that I should speak to President Festus Mogae to obtain his approval. I did, and

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he gave it. Commissioner Tsimako, Broekhuis and I flew to New Xade in a helicopter; I am not sure whether it was military. It matters not even if it was; government Ministers and senior government officers were frequently flown by the BDF to remote areas of the country to conduct Government business. There is nothing significant about the helicopter being military, if it was. 

*In New Xade, Commissioner Tsimako supervised negotiations between the Ghanzi Police on the one hand, and the Americans, the Germans, and the Basarwa leaders on the other. The officers were polite, respectful and professional in their conduct of the negotiation effort. Commissioner Tsimako, Mr Broekhuis and I did not get involved; it was not necessary. The Americans and the Germans yielded, saying that they had not known the version of the government, as also that the planned entry would be contrary to the law. Roy Sesana and his Basarwa friends persisted, and there was no turning them, including the lengthy begging in which the Police engaged. 

* After the leaders of the Basarwa had gathered those who were to join them in the unlawful march into the CKGR, the Police continued begging them as the procession proceeded. The Police warned them a few times that they were not going to allow them to contravene the law, and that they had a duty to stop them. When the Police tried to block their way, the group physically attacked the Police with an assortment of weapons, including sticks. In order to quell the violence and in self defence, the Police fired teargas. That did not seem to work as the assault by the group continued. The Police had to fire three rubber bullets, which is the only act that dispersed the crowd and stopped the attack on the Police by the crowd. One person was hit by one of the rubber bullets.

* The Police made what arrests they thought appropriate. All the while, Commissioner Tsimako, Broekhuis and I stood and watched; not once did we get involved in any way whatsoever. The three of us returned to Gaborone, where I reported to the then President and the then Vice President as to what had happened at the CKGR. Where the Police took the suspects following the arrests, and what happened there after I am not aware of.

Conclusion
* Kuela Kiema, the author of the book, was the interpreter during most of the trial of the case between the Government and the Basarwa of the CKGR. To the best of my recollection, he was not present during this occurrence of which he writes.

He makes bold to defame me in a book on the basis of false hearsay, plainly in order to lend drama and sensation to what may well be a book that is targeted at the western world in order to attract the outrage of western readers and make money for himself. My rights are fully reserved. I am aware that because I was the face of the government in the CKGR case, the Basarwa might detest me. Rre Kiema, o nkile mme o seka wa nkakela!        

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